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Chinese New Year: Working on Self & Others

Written by Chua Peh Siang & Faith Tan

Happy New Year Readers!

We hope you’ve been having a good start to 2022!

Just like 2020 and 2021, this year’s Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations will likely involve smaller gatherings and fewer house visits because of the restrictions. With scaled-down celebrations and more time to ourselves and our immediate family members, it is an opportune time to improve ourselves and our relationships during this festive season.

CNY Resolutions

As many would say, “New Year, New Me”. What better time to start afresh than the beginning of the year? Often, the new year feels like a new start and a wonderful chance to do away with bad habits and develop new routines. However, sticking to our resolutions is much easier said than done. A large-scale study found that by the end of 6 months, only 40% of people maintained their resolutions. This likely rings true for some of you and you may find yourself sliding back into your old habits by the middle of the year.

What can we do then, to accomplish our rather daunting long-term goals for the future? We would like to share this awesomely apt acronym: CNY

C: Choose a specific goal

Think your goals are SMART? You can make them SMARTER. The SMARTER tool is a guide you can use for goal-setting. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Timed, Evaluated and Reviewed.

Instead of setting vague goals like: “I want to lose weight” or “I want to live life more meaningfully”, you can set specific targets to meet like: “I aim to lose 2kg by 6 months” or “I aim to take part in volunteering activities once a month.” Setting a concrete, tangible and achievable goal allows you to plan specifically how you are going to keep to your resolution and accomplish your goal over the span of the year. Using the SMARTER guide also helps you to review the goal along the way.

N: Narrow down your goals to a selected few

While you might have a long list of potential resolutions, focusing on a single goal can boost your self-efficacy - which is the belief that you can achieve your goals! Don’t be disheartened or discouraged that you’re merely setting one goal or it’s “too easy”. All goals are valid and are an amazing achievement once you have met them. Besides, meeting one goal is better than meeting none at all!

Y: Year-long system

Apart from setting a goal, it is also important to build a system to achieve the goal. For example, your goal may be to lose 2kg in 6 months. However, you would need a system to achieve that goal. The system can be running twice a week or eating vegetarian food once a week. Building a system helps you to remove or hone habits along the way, bringing you closer to your goal.

Remember, setting a goal and sticking to it is never easy. Change is a process, and it can be long. Bad habits do not disappear overnight and neither are good habits honed overnight. It’s perfectly normal to falter and there will definitely be some bumps along the way. Be kind and be patient with yourself. Find the courage to get up even if you stumble and you will definitely go a long way!

Visiting and Greeting

Traditionally, CNY is a time for friends and families to meet and catch up with each other. However, the holiday can create anxiety for some people. In particular, the unwelcomed comments that friends and relatives might make while going on house visits. Some comments are often said in good fun or even well-meaning. Nonetheless these comments might be hurtful and appear judgmental, especially if targeted at an issue the person is struggling with. Many of us may unknowingly make these comments and hurt someone’s feelings in the process.

Questions/remarks relating to weight, relationships, jobs and examination results are deeply personal and often leave room for comparison against other relatives. No one wants to be told they are not as good as someone else, especially during the festive season!

So, what can we ask then? The best questions are those that are more open-ended and less pointed in nature such that the recipients can elaborate on their answer as much or little as they want.

Some examples are:

1. What are you looking forward to this year?

This is a great open-ended question that not only allows friends and family to share their aspirations comfortably but gives you the chance to get to know more about their plans for the year ahead in a minimally intrusive way.

2. How have you been doing? / I hope that things are going well for you.

Such questions allow others to share openly out of their own volition and provide a wonderful opportunity for you to affirm and respond positively. You could also express care and concern for any difficulties they might have faced should they choose to share their worries instead.

3. Hobbies and Interests

Given that we only see some of our relatives during this festive season, it is the perfect chance to find out what new interests or hobbies others have picked up! You never know, perhaps you’ll find someone new to watch football or play video games with!

While CNY is a great time for festivity, fun, family and friendship, the New Year is also a great time for self-reflection, goal setting and mindfulness. Remember to take care of both your physical and mental health as we embark on an exciting new adventure and embrace what 2022 has in store for us!

We wish you all a happy, healthy New Year filed with wellness! :D


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